A semblance of normalcy will be felt for this year's 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland.
The NFL announced Monday that a select number of prospects, fans and media crews will be on-site as the league welcomes this year's rookie class. The three-day event -- from April 29 to May 1 -- will offer free events for fans in accordance with public officials at the state and local levels to help ensure a safe and successful draft. Fans attending draft activities will be required to wear face coverings and adhere to appropriate physical distancing.
The 86th annual draft will be held across three iconic locations in downtown Cleveland, including FirstEnergy Stadium, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center.
"We are thrilled to be heading to Cleveland for the NFL Draft, which has become one of the most highly anticipated events in sports," said Peter O'Reilly, NFL executive vice president, club business and league events. "Just months after executing a safe and successful Super Bowl LV, we look forward to bringing the excitement of our Draft traditions to fans in collaboration with the Browns, Destination Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the City of Cleveland, and all of our local Cleveland partners."
The main stage of the NFL draft will be set against the backdrop of Lake Erie and serve as the central hub of this year's festivities. It is there where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will make the pick announcements and greet top selections once their names are called. Although the league will be able to continue its ongoing tradition of the draft this year, the NFL is building on the success of last year's virtual draft with additional prospects participating remotely from their homes around the country.
Club personnel involved in the selection process will be permitted to gather in a draft room at a location of their choosing, whether that be their facility or elsewhere while following appropriate protocols.
The Draft Theatre will act as a prime viewing zone of the main stage and seat invited guests, including individuals selected for the exclusive "Inner Circle presented by Subway." Fans selected to this "Inner Circle" will be chosen by each of the 32 NFL clubs and they will serve as the team's draft ambassadors. Furthering the NFL's efforts in promoting the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine when available, fans selected to sit in the "Inner Circle" must be fully vaccinated.
The NFL will build upon the 2020 Draft-A-Thon this year, utilizing the 2021 draft as a platform to bring awareness to issues impacting communities most affected by the pandemic. More information on the Draft-A-Thon will be announced in the coming weeks.
"We are thrilled for Cleveland to host this year's NFL Draft and celebrate the hard-working and inspiring new Draft prospects, football's great history, and our fans. It is even more special as we commemorate our 75th anniversary and have the opportunity to showcase the wonderful city of Cleveland to an international audience and to a responsible number of fans and visitors during the weekend," said Dee and Jimmy Haslam, managing and principal partners of the Cleveland Browns. "We greatly appreciate the continued collaboration by the NFL, local and state government officials and medical experts who are all focused on creating a memorable and safe experience and we are also extremely encouraged by the state of Ohio's vaccination rates and advancements that are allowing us to make the progress needed to return to a safe and more normal environment."
As the NFL aims to provide an entertaining live event, the league will be utilizing its learnings and protocols from the fan experiences held in Tampa Bay this past February for Super Bowl LV to ensure it's a safe proceeding. The NFL Draft Experience -- the NFL's interactive football theme park -- will be free and open to the public around FirstEnergy Stadium during all three days of the draft. In order to manage capacity, reservations will be required to attend the free Draft Experience through the NFL OnePass app, which will be available for download the week of March 29.
The 2021 NFL Draft will be broadcast on NFL Network, ESPN and ABC, including two nights of primetime coverage beginning on April 29. Further details on NFL Network, ESPN and ABC's coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft will be announced at a later date. More information on this year's draft activities can be found at NFL.com/Draft.